Fukuoka (Hakata), Japan

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Fukuoka, Kyushu's largest city, was once two separate entities: Fukuoka in the west and the merchant area of Hakata to the east. Joined together in 1889, the contemporary city—population 1.5 million—has a lively, modern atmosphere, an array of impressive architecture by international starchitects, including Rem Koolhaas, César Pelli, Emilio Ambasz and Aldo Rossi, and a number of cultural attractions and museums such as the Fukuoka Asian Art Museum. Modern developments like Canal City—a mixed-use complex designed by American Jon Jerde that contains hotels, cinemas, restaurants and shops—lend the city space a futuristic air, as does the striking 234-meter (768-foot) Fukuoka Tower, which is covered in mirrored glass and has an observation deck. On the historical side, sites like the Kushida Shrine and the ruins of Fukuoka Castle offer traditional and cultural insights. The pond in the center of Ōhori, Fukuoka's largest park, was once part of Fukuoka Castle's moat, and you'll find gardens, a zoo, an amusement park and a car museum in Uminonakamichi Seaside Park.
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